If you have an overdue book, movie or other item from the Sacramento Public Library system, bring it back before March 15 to get your fines waived.
The library system’s first “fine forgiveness” program began Tuesday and continues for a month. Fines for overdue items, as well as a $10 collection agency fine, are being waived for the next month for any returned items. The program is meant to help people who long ago made a mistake reconnect with the library, said Rivkah Sass, Sacramento Public Library executive director.
“From a business perspective, it’s pretty common knowledge that if someone owes you a debt that’s over five years old, you’re not going to get it back,” Sass said. “This allows for us to say, ‘We know life happens; we forgive you,’ and clean up our accounting at the same time.”
Tracie Popma, the library public information coordinator, said all returned items are eligible for fine forgiveness. This means both fines on overdue items you bring back and those still associated with items you already returned will be waived under the initiative.
As of Thursday afternoon, 4,422 fines totaling $8,623.79 were waived through the program, and 1,063 items were returned, Popma said.
All 28 library locations throughout Sacramento County are participating. Partner library, interlibrary loan, and Link+ items are not eligible for the return program.
SPL is also encouraging borrowers to share stories of why they’re returning their materials late through the #NoFineIfFound hashtag on Twitter. Already, library staff are hearing stories about how the program is helping families come back and use the library after avoiding it because of fines, Sass said.
“I’ve already heard a story about a mother who owed $49 and came to get it forgiven yesterday,” she said. “She cried because she hadn’t been able to take her family to the library since the materials were lost. Now, she’s able to check out books with her kids again.”
Whether the fine forgiveness program comes back will depend on how successful it is in bringing materials back and getting people to use the library, Sass said, as 79,000 people are affected.
“We’re a library, we’re an educational institution, and we want people to be able to use us,” Sass said. “Sometimes things happen in people’s lives, so that’s really why we decided to do it. Whether or not we do it again is going to be really dependent on a lot of different factors.”